Consumers are voting with their dollars, conscious of the impact of every purchase. Messaging can be muddled by “green-washing” product labels and proliferating their social media with sustainable claims.
Erin Allweiss and Melody Serafino founded No. 29 on the premise of telling the stories of sustainable businesses, the real businesses making change every day, not just in one product release or Earth Day proclamations. Their New York-based communications firm puts the focus on deciphering fact from fiction in a world where everyone wants sustainability, but doesn’t really understand what it means.
Serafino cited key sustainability trends across the fashion, arts and design sectors. Serafino believes many are already “rethinking the seasonal cycle,” moving away from the resource-intensive demands of seasonal fashion. This same resource thought is applied to design, as “reworking pieces” grows with the prevalence of secondhand. Designers pioneering this movement early on include those using recycled fabrics such as Christopher Raeburn, or Japanese designer Yuima Nakazato, upcycling quilt couture, as recently seen in their spring 2019 collections.
“Hemp,” added Allweiss, to their shared list of trends, but not just in cannabis and CBD products. Having spoken recently to their client, Ananda Hemp (which advocates for and produces hemp-based products), Allweiss cited the benefits of hemp as a textile alternative to cotton.
“Re-wearing” is another trend cited by Allweiss. It’s even the catalyst of a two-month campaign by Marina Testino, a Parsons grad with a sustainable “point of view,” increasingly public since she’s the niece of famed fashion photographer, Mario Testino. The founder of fashion brand Point Off View used Instagram as a platform to raise awareness on conscious consumerism in her #YellowLikeALemon campaign, which she will host a celebration Thursday in New York’s Lower East Side. Only yellow, only sustainable brands and methods, (hunting flea markets, borrowing wardrobes and shopping vintage) — no souring when giving garments “second lives,” as she stated on her web site.
Allweiss, with a background in environmental politics, working for the U.S. House of Representatives as well as the Natural Resources Defense Council, always espoused an interest for the intersection of fashion, media and policy. She believes making it “cool to care about” sustainable brands is what piques the interest of both the fashion and beauty industries, conventionally ruled by status and appearance. When sustainable brands are aesthetically pleasing and carry a fanbase, then the consumer is easily swayed.
Instagram campaigns are relevant for opening dialogue, but “transformative changes” are necessary to realize sustainability, as a landmark report released Monday indicates “around 1 million species already face extinction.” The report is produced by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, the intergovernmental body which analyzes society’s biodiversity and ecosystem services, and the United Nations’ expert nature panel.
At No. 29, the goal is to “demonstrate who’s really doing right,” with the best brands being first to showcase their factories, publish wages and reveal durability and what materials are used among other factors. Some brands that received No. 29’s representation include: sustainable French sneaker brand, Veja; premium, natural skin-care company, Evereden; technical fashion essentials, Aday, and unisex fragrance line, Ormaie, and more.
Consumers and brands can’t expect full compliance on sustainability, but the more open conversations, the better. “Sustainability is a movement,” reiterated Allweiss, rather than a trend.